The Paradox of Success


The following is a guest article published by Chuck Garcia, the founder of Climb Leadership International, an executive coaching firm that focuses on teaching skills related to public speaking, emotional intelligence, and executive presence. Chuck formerly spent twenty-five years in leadership positions at Bloomberg, BlackRock, and Citadel Investment Management.

When you walk into a meeting, what do you see? Consider the dynamic. Lots of serious looking people, many on the phone as they multitask, striving to succeed in a highly competitive landscape. Someone else walks in, all heads turn in anticipation, and the meeting begins. When finished, what do you remember? Was it worth your time? Did the meeting achieve a desired objective and leave you with a clear call to action? Or was it a colossal failure? Did that someone just like to hear themselves talk? If the latter, sadly this is one hour of your life you will never get back!

What did you think of the people at that table? Good, bad, or indifferent, every one you knew there already established a reputation. Next, give thought to someone you perceive as the most effective leader in that room. Not the most educated nor the most technically competent, but one you would choose to follow under any circumstance. Then, consider every great leader you admire and look up to. Whether business, politics, or sports, what is it about them that informs your conclusion?

While it is challenging to examine every characteristic, chances are they have established three undeniable traits: credibility, trust, and respect. Referred to as the CTR factor in a compelling book by Suri Surinder, I encourage everyone I work with to develop a success mindset based on this model. Each decision, interaction, and discussion either supports or diminishes your CTR factor. It becomes the currency that determines your value in the company. While difficult to pinpoint the CTR factor into one measure, consider the consequence of not having established any one of these career pillars. 

This mindset model but does not come naturally to most people. Like other leadership competencies, it is a learned behavior based on your substance, style, and capacity to influence others. How then do you optimize your CTR factor as you strive to climb up the corporate ladder?

My name is Chuck Garcia. I am a former Bloomberg and BlackRock executive turned executive coach, best-selling author, and Columbia University professor. I teach in a program called Professional Development & Leadership. At every opportunity, I hammer home a premise from one conclusion I learned over years of coaching and teaching: Most people are promoted on the strength of their technical competence into positions where the job description is significantly different. While they embrace the promotion, sadly, they are unprepared and ill equipped to achieve their new goals.

Called The Paradox of Success, the skills that propelled you halfway up the career mountain are not the skills that help you climb to the top. With a massive change in job expectations, it is likely you are now in charge of other people with similar technical skills. However, your success criteria radically changed.

Expected to lead, motivate, and communicate to ensure their success, it is no longer about you. Your success in this leadership role is based on the capacity to help others succeed. Sadly, these traits were not part of any formal education. Your primary frame of leadership reference is derived from your prior bosses. If you had a great one, you likely model those behaviors. If you had a horrible one, despite any resistance, you sadly may end up just like him or her. Yet, every aspect of leadership is based on learned behaviors. Trying to be like others can work for a time, but others look to you for authenticity and inspiration. Who taught you either?

How to get there? You have a choice to open your mind and get comfortable in the discomfort of learning to become compelling leader. Or not. It is a choice. And you decide whether (or not) these skills are worth developing. Skeptical? Look at the TOP 5 soft skills communicated by Linked. These career characteristics, ranked in order, appear on more job ads that any others. And the best part…the market is telling you what it wants. Not just for entry into your dream job, but for climbing the career mountain as you learn to inspire, persuade, and provoke change.

Call to Action: Commit now to pick one leadership competency from LinkedIn. Or, when you consider the sum of that list, it is about communication skills. How you choose to show up, contribute, and communicate in clear and concise tones that will lead you to develop invaluable credibility, trust and respect.

This is the first installment of an Integrity Research series targeted to your professional development. Each month we will bring insights on a variety of leadership themes to help take your career to new heights. Topics will include public speaking, emotional intelligence, and other competencies critical to ensure success. Reach out if you have any questions or comments. Otherwise, stay tuned for more.

Chuck Garcia, President, Climb Leadership International,  Chuck is the founder of Climb Leadership International and coaches executives worldwide on public speaking, emotional intelligence, and executive presence. His clients include many of the world’s best and biggest companies. He is a motivational speaker, Amazon bestselling author of A Climb to the Top, and teaches at Columbia University. Chuck is also a passionate and accomplished mountaineer who has scaled peaks all over the world. He formerly spent twenty-five years in leadership positions at Bloomberg, BlackRock, and Citadel Investment Management.

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Mike Mayhew is one of the leading experts on the investment research industry. In addition to founding Integrity Research, Mike is on the board of directors of Investorside Research Association, the non-profit trade association for the independent research industry, and a frequent speaker on research industry trends and developments. Mike has over thirty years of research industry experience. Email:

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